Business Q&A with Travel Expert Tom McElroy
Tom McElroy talks about taking over a small business in Carroll County.
Tom McElroy moved to Carroll County from his home in Bowley's Quarters in 2003 and began working as an outside agent for Special Journeys travel agency at Town Mall in Westminster. McElroy said that when the opportunity to own the company became available, the transition was natural.
In 1988 Dave and Lynn McCabe became one of the original tenants of Town Mall when they opened their travel agency. According to McElroy, over the years, the public name of the company changed as it was affiliated with other travel consortia, but it remained under the ownership of the McCabes until Dave retired at the end of 2011. Beginning in January of 2012, McElroy became the owner and Lynn McCabe became a senior agent. The travel agency is now called Special Journeys.
McElroy said he has 45 years of business experience coupled with college degrees in Marketing and Engineering. He said that the travel industry has been impacted by a recession as well as technology but that Carroll County has proven to be a good place to do business.
What to hear what else this small business has to say? Read on.
Patch: What are the challenges of owning a small business?
McElroy: The travel agent business has experienced difficult times in recent years, beginning when the airlines decided to stop paying commissions on air tickets, thereby causing a significant reduction in revenue for travel agencies. Then, as the country slipped into recession, folks began preserving their discretionary income by cutting back on travel, and that challenged travel agencies further.
Patch: What are the challenges and benefits of doing business in Carroll County?
McElroy: Carroll County offers a fertile base of potential clients for travel. The demographics of the population, income levels, and infusion of new families provide a growing opportunity to sell vacation travel. Our trading area includes all of Carroll County, lower Pennsylvania, eastern Frederick County and western Baltimore County.
Patch: How does technology affect your business?
McElroy: As in probably all businesses, technology has had an impact on how we conduct our business. Nearly all travel vendors - cruise lines, resort vacation providers, tour operators, etc. - offer web sites dedicated to travel agents for information and bookings. Instead of the pen-and-paper method, everything is now computerized. More recently, there has been more use of social media to communicate with the public.
To learn more about Tom or Special Journeys, visit the website at www.specialjourneys.com.